Understanding the Trinity

There is quite a bit of misconception about the Trinity.  People get really upset when you have any sort of discussion that could change their opinion of the Holy Trinity of Christianity.  I’m hoping I can clear up a few things about it.

Christians are Monotheistic
The trinity is often confused with a polytheistic belief.  We believe in YHWH.  Sure, we have a lot of theology and doctrine devoted to which persons in the Trinity do what, but in my opinion, that is a waste of doctrine, theology, and discussion.  Here is the shortened version:  One God, One Throne.  To expand that, we worship one God, and it is the Christian belief that there is one throne in heaven where Jesus will reside.  “What about Jesus sitting on the right hand of God?”  Yes, I am anticipating your indoctrinated questions.  Hebrews 12:2 should make every Christian scratch their heads if you take the literal approach: either Jesus isn’t God (they are two separate beings) which makes Jesus a liar, or there are two thrones in heaven.  If there are two thrones, then how do we worship a trinity unless there is a throne for the Holy Spirit (the bible doesn’t mention anything about that…).  So, we can either ignore this, commit heresy, or see this as a figure of speech.  I have heard some say Jesus is God’s “right hand man,” which has some implications on an immediate ideas (is there a separation between God and Jesus?), but as a general idea, I think it’s fair to say that Jesus was God encapsulated in flesh, and that as a direct result did the absolute work of God because He simply was God.

Trinitarian Worship
I’m just going to state this simply: if we are monotheistic, then why is there a concern over which name we use in worship.  Worship, in the church, is a heated topic.  How do you worship, who do you direct worship to, what can we consider modern idolatry, and so on and so on.  God desires to be worshipped, and that is evident from Genesis.  In the Old Testament, I do not see ANY reference to God asking to be worshipped with this name or that name.  God (detectably) didn’t reveal the trinity outright to the Israelites, and yet their worship of YHWH was completely valid.  Jumping ahead to John’s Revelation, the only figure being worshipped directly is Jesus.  How do we integrate both of these worship concepts?  By worshipping God.  The Holy Spirit is God.  Jesus is God.  God the Father is, of course, God.  One God.  Some would call me a heretic because there is so much church history and so many church councils dealing with this sort of theology, but I am going to just state this plainly as I understand it.  The Trinity is just a construct God allowed so we, as human beings, can have a fuller understanding of His character (but don’t put too much into that, because then we could say God is schizophrenic…).

Trinity in Salvation
Some people have issue with some sort of standard “sinner’s prayer,” or some gibberish like that.  Some people pray, “Jesus, come into my heart,” others pray, “Father God, I want to follow you,” and still others, “Holy Spirit, I invite you into my life.”  Very rarely do I hear about someone asking God as a wholistic version of the Trinity to bring them to a point of Christian salvation.  People get wrapped up in what part each Trinitarian person plays in salvation.  Once again, there is ONE God who saves.

I said this to my pastor, and (s)he thinks I’m a heretic
Does your pastor believe in One God?  Doesn’t sound like it.  I do not want people to go out and proclaim there is no trinity; that is not my message.  My message is not to get obsessed with it.  I lead music-worship in my college’s chapel every Friday (give or take a holiday or two), and one thing the chapel coordinator usually brings up to each worship leader is how often we include the whole trinity into our specified time of worship through music.  There is no room in this system for monotheism – we are practically taught to view God as three separate divisions, and make complex theologies on how these separated persons are somehow intertwined.  It’s an over-complication, in my humble opinion.  I don’t believe God is simple, by any means, but I also fail to see why Christians have a desire to try and make it more complicated than what we can explain.  What happened to the mystery of God that Paul wrote about?  Why did we choose reason over revelation?

This post has probably left you with more questions, or maybe removed some answers that seemed definite to you.  I think it’s humbling to leave room for the unknown of God.  God reveals to us what humanity needs to a basic understanding of Him so we can come into relationship with Him.  God never once said “understand Me.”  God left, I would argue, a lot of gaps on purpose, so we are left to push our relationship with Him to the limits to desire Him.  I am openly proclaiming that it is impossible on our own understanding to figure God out, so I urge you to ask God to examine your relationship with Him, and to specifically strengthen it.

The best prayer I can think of is this (don’t worry, it’s short, and isn’t Christian-ese): “God, reveal yourself to me, please.”


4 thoughts on “Understanding the Trinity

  1. “This means everlasting life, them seeking knowledge of you” – Jesus Christ.

    I am a Christian who will declare before any man that I believe more than anything else that Jesus is the Son of God. Having said that, I am of no denomination and attend no formal congregation, and, most significantly, I do not believe in the trinity.

    I am personally repulsed by the vast majority of the denominations as ORGANIZATIONS, most of whom subscribe to this belief as an inheritance from the organization from which they were derived – the roman catholic church. For our Lord warned us ” a bad tree cannot bare good fruit” and I can find no good in the history of this particular organization, let alone “truth” as told to us by Christ and our Apostles. Even today, it’s behavour towards those it has victimised sexually shames God because it claims to act infalably in his name. And it would dare to call me “heretic”!

    At the moment our Lord died, the curtain was rent assunder, meaning there was no man, angel or thing between an individual and his redeemer of any authority, except for the apostles who are now gone, having done their job. So it seems to me that if you cannot be a faith committed Christian without a formal rules (law) based organization between you and HIM then this aspect of his death was vanity. It is the individual’s responsibility to seek knowledge of God until the end of this life we have, and if you are confused about who God is, then you MUST resolve the matter for yourself or else the CONFUSER has beaten you.

    Now I could blither on with all the usual arguements and counter arguements concerning the trinity that are plastered all over more means of publication than can be counted. But consider this oh man, whoever you are, that the overriding requiremant that the Father had of the Son was “obedience unto death”, and if the trinity is true then God was being obedient to himself, which one can NEVER be because such an act is simply “SELF SERVING”. In other words, nothing was achieved, nothing was lost and only a great hoax was perpetraited in that God took a few moments in all eternity to inconvenience himself in order to con a few of those pesky humans into doing things his way – and may that never happen. GOD CANNOT LIE, and thus Christ was and is an entirely separate person.

    I believe I know rather definitively who God is, but it takes more space and time than is available here to explain. Suffice to say for now that Jesus Christ is now “a” God by virtue of his sonship to the greater Majesty “separately” sitting to His (Christ’s) left hand on the throne that Christ became qualified to also occupy through his love and obedience to His Father.

    Worship the Father. He alone is the almighty power among all the holy powers (Elohim) in the heavens. Kiss and love the Son for He is your brother redeemer, and do not let yourself be confused by the evil one.

    May the Lord deliver the good oil of understanding that he promised to believers through means of his Holy Spirit, the Holy means by which he teaches.

    1. Hi, Garry,
      I think in your reading this post, you neglected the rest of my blog, where you’ll come to see that I am not a Trinitarian at all. You will, however, read that I follow the Bible, and never claim to have any perfect theologies. One thing I do want to have you think about from your response is on God’s motivation and who Jesus is. You said that God cannot be self-serving, but I would beg to differ. God does not serve man, and there is no one above Him in any authority; this does not mean God does not care about us, but in the big picture, God can do whatever He desires.
      You also say that Jesus was only “a god” by virtue – if this was the case, we might as well through the resurrection and atonement in the garbage. You might find this article to explain my position on Jesus.
      Take care, sir, and I appreciate your contribution,

  2. It is true that, generally, in this world, in this life, he who has the biggest stick wins (governs). Man governs mankind by virtue of force ( always to mankinds’s detriment), ie violence physical or psycological, which means with the absence of LOVE. We are told that God is love, and thus is unable to govern us using the principle of the big stick. It was his love from which he determined that he could only govern the creation if it chose to be governed by Him, ie, to freely love him in return. And the means to establish this was “free will”. What I am on about here is that an Almighty consisting of love not only did not but is incapable of using any form of trickery or misimformation in dealing with his creation in order for it to reach a state of loving him. Accordingly, I stand by my assertion that if Christ was The Almighty, is The Almighty, then the basis of our relationship to The Almighty through a self serving trick on his part is invalid because it is not love. And never let this be so. LOVE is the reason The Almighty cannot be self serving in the matter of Christ’s obedience and our redemption. God Almighty is constrained (only) by the purity of his own nature. You say He can do whatever he desires to do, failing to realise that He is incapable of doing that which he is not. Thus, I stand by what I said. If Jesus is/was God Almighty then we are not redeemed.

    Now, I have read your article explaining your position on Jesus and conclude that you remain undecided, confused, and, as yet uncommitted. You are critical of the trinity but hang on to the desire to keep Jesus Almighty. What is this need to have Almighty God in some mystical way divide himself but not really divide himself in order for redemption to occur. Mankind became polluted with sin through the unrighteous action of one then perfect man and thus mankind could be redeemed through the obedient righteous action of one perfect man, which was exactly and only what was required by God Almighty, not some trickery on his part. I believe it is acceptable to God Almighty for a person to be in error, provided the error exists in all innocence (Unrecognised by the perpetraitor), for this was precisely what the ritual of the Atonement conducted by the high priest represented. However, it is far better to continue in your search for the exact nature of God Almighty, for in this condition there is no sin. Our Lord, Savour and Brother said “I would rather that you be cold (believing but in error) but because you are luke warm I will spill you out of my mouth”.

    Now I could continue to rave on here all day, but to what good to you and me? Suffice to say that God Almighty could and did appoint any one he so wanted to the rank of “god” on his behalf, as he so appointed Moses as god to Aaron and Pharoah. So if he appointed this much to a sinful man, how much more then did he apportion to his perfect obedient Son.

    May the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ guide you in your search for the truth

    Garry McGrath

    1. No where in the Bible does it say God is love, but God is righteous and holy. The Old Testament is filled with God judging not just Israel, but other places, where he destroys or rebuilds nations. By that virtue, God has the biggest stick, and He uses it as He pleases.
      For Jesus being “upgraded” from man to God, that completely destroys His messiahship that was prophesied by the Old Testament. If He wasn’t God, then He didn’t fulfill those prophesies, and we are still in the problem of sin. On the other hand, if Jesus was fully God, then He is completely able to be the perfect atonement for sin, and is able to present Himself sinless (because holiness is the complete separation sin, and Jesus is certainly holy) to Himself, because there is no one else that exists that can judge God except Himself.
      If Jesus could be upgraded to a state of divinity from humanity, why didn’t God do that a long time ago to many other people?

      – EDIT –
      Well, I was a little wrong, when I peeked at 1 John 4:8 which says God is love, but even so, the love is an extension of His holiness. If God were the type of love we understand, how do we justify God’s actions in the Old Testament, when He torn Israel away from the promised land, and sent them into exile, or in 70AD when God destroyed the temple?

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